Fantasy Football Weekly Recap: Week 2 (2019)
As the commissioner of my longest-running home league, I convinced my league-mates to make the switch to superflex this year. Quarterback is the most important position in real football, I argued, so let’s make it more important in our fantasy game too.
Unfortunately, QBs flew off the board faster than I was expecting during the draft, so I came away from it with Ben Roethlisberger and Nick Foles. I managed to trade for Josh Allen after Foles went down in Week 1, but Big Ben’s elbow injury may be more than I can handle. It’s looking like I’ll be deciding between Joe Flacco and Trevor Siemian for my second QB spot next week. Woof.
I tell this story not because I believe you care about my fantasy team (you don’t), but because the growth of superflex leagues is coinciding with what is fast becoming the year of the missing quarterbacks. Injuries are always part of the game when it comes to fantasy football, it just tends to be injuries to running backs and wide receivers much more often than to quarterbacks.
It all began in August when Andrew Luck’s long-running injury issues prompted him to hang up his cleats — after many fantasy leagues had already drafted. Then we lost Foles last week (at least the legend of Gardner Minshew was born out of that one). But Week 2 has been the real killer. We learned on Thursday that Sam Darnold had come down with a case of mono, which could cost him anywhere from 3-7 weeks. And on Sunday we lost two of the most reliable fantasy QBs of the last decade — Roethlisberger and Drew Brees — to what looks like potentially serious arm/hand injuries.
If you play in a traditional single-QB league, you’ll likely be just fine even if you drafted the best of these guys (Brees). It’s obviously not ideal, but there may be another very solid option on your waiver wire, and even if there isn’t, you can do just fine by playing matchups at QB. But if it’s your first year doing superflex, you’re probably freaking out right now, and I’m right there with you. When you’re short on QBs in a superflex, you have no choice but to do the scramble drill.
Top 5 Surprises
Demarcus Robinson (WR – KC)
Sammy Watkins was supposed to be the biggest beneficiary of Tyreek Hill’s injury, and rookie Mecole Hardman was the trendy sleeper pickup. But it was Robinson who produced the bonkers fantasy numbers this week, hauling in all six of his targets for 172 yards and two TDs. It may prove tough to figure out whether Robinson or Hardman will go off in any given week, but they both obviously need to be owned everywhere. Meanwhile, perhaps a small buying window has opened on Watkins. He didn’t do much on Sunday but he saw 13 targets and now has 24 through two games. You might just want the number one receiver of that Patrick Mahomes guy.
San Francisco Running Backs
It wasn’t exactly shocking that Matt Breida had a big game with Tevin Coleman sidelined, but 121 rushing yards on 12 carries is pretty, pretty good. But that is nothing compared to the pleasant surprise of the 49ers second- and third-string backs. Raheem Mostert, who already should have been owned in most competitive leagues, was one of the biggest fantasy stars of Week 2. He piled up 151 total yards and a touchdown on 16 touches and looked mighty good doing it. Kyle Shanahan is known for producing at least two fantasy-viable RBs, so Mostert is absolutely on the RB2/3 radar at least until Coleman returns. Then there’s Jeff Wilson, who was promoted from the practice squad just in time to score two TDs. Shanahanigans at their best, my friends.
Jimmy Garoppolo (QB – SF)
It wasn’t just the 49ers’ runners that had a nice afternoon against Cincinnati. Jimmy G. got back on track, too. Reports out of training camp suggested that Garoppolo looked hesitant in the pocket following his return from last year’s ACL tear, and the doubters made a lot of hay out of the fact that he threw five interceptions… in practice. A bland Week 1 stat line did little to alleviate the concerns, but Garoppolo’s efficient demolition of the Bengals should do the trick. He’s firmly back on the streaming radar in single-QB leagues and his superflex owners can feel much more confident in him moving forward.
David Montgomery (RB – CHI)
Montgomery produced just 68 yards (and a score) on his 19 touches against the Broncos, but it’s the 19 touches that should have his fantasy owners excited. The third-round rookie received fewer touches than Mike Davis and Tarik Cohen in Week 1, and it certainly looked like Montgomery owners were going to have to patiently wait for him to win the lead job. So much for that. Matt Nagy raved about Montgomery all offseason and he only waited one week before throwing the rookie into the fire. Montgomery may need to run a bit more efficiently if he wants to hold onto the starting job, but he should get an extended audition. His arrow is pointing up in redraft leagues.
Emmanuel Sanders (WR – DEN)
Sanders is officially back, folks. Coming off a torn Achilles at 32 years old, it was fair to question whether he would ever be the same. But that just made him a low-risk value in drafts. Sanders looked great throughout the preseason, and he’s carried it over to the regular season with 16 catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns (plus a 2-point conversion) over the first two games. For the second straight week, the bulk of his fantasy production came very late in the game, but that just shows how much Joe Flacco trusts him. Sanders is looking like a high-end WR3 who is one more big game away from returning to weekly WR2 status.
Top 5 Disappointments
Duke Johnson (RB – HOU)
It seemed like the best-case scenario for Johnson’s fantasy value when the Texans opted to bring in only Carlos Hyde as competition following Lamar Miller’s season-ending knee injury. But Hyde looked surprisingly spry in Week 1, and then he flat-out stole lead back duties from Duke in Week 2, out-touching him 20-to-6 against Jacksonville. This was an ugly, grind-it-out kind of game, so it’s fair to expect Johnson to be more involved when game script cooperates. But those who were expecting Duke to serve as a near-every down back need to give up the ghost at this point.
Chris Carson (RB – SEA)
Carson made some nice plays against the Steelers in Week 2, but he also lost his second and third fumbles of the young season — and watched Rashaad Penny scamper for a 37-yard touchdown run. Carson has been unfairly doubted before, and he was trusted late in the game to run out the clock, so there’s no need to panic about him losing the starting job just yet. Pete Carroll sure seems to love him, but every NFL coach reaches a tipping point with fumbles somewhere along the line, so Carson would be wise to hold onto the ball tightly next week against the Saints.
Alvin Kamara (RB – NO)
Kamara seemed primed for a big game in an anticipated shootout with the Rams, but that all went out the window when Brees injured his hand. Kamara ended up with just 14 touches for 48 yards. That normally wouldn’t be much cause for concern, but if Brees misses extended time, it will probably be a hit to Kamara’s weekly upside (and make Latavius Murray just about unplayable). Kamara is still an RB1 no matter what, but his owners have to be hoping for some positive news about Brees.
Phillip Lindsay (RB – DEN)
I saw Lindsay’s struggles coming, but what I didn’t expect was for Royce Freeman to go over 100 total yards against the Bears’ shutdown D. This situation has quickly devolved into a near-even timeshare, and while Lindsay is going to remain involved, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Freeman overtake him with a couple more performances like this one.
Dante Pettis (WR – SF)
It wasn’t all peace and love coming out of San Francisco this week. Just ask the guy who was supposed to be the Niners’ number one receiver. While his teammates were putting up big fantasy numbers, Pettis was a complete non-factor. He did see more snaps this week, but that is likely because the game was a blowout. Pettis boosters were hoping that motivational tactics or a slight groin issue were the reasons for Pettis’ lack of involvement, but at this point, it’s clear that Shanahan simply doesn’t trust him as much as his other wideouts. Expect to see Pettis land on a lot of waiver wires this week, and deservedly so.
Marquise Brown’s (WR – BAL) 233 receiving yards are the most in a rookie’s first 2 games since Anquan Boldin in 2003. It was unclear coming into the season whether Baltimore would truly be a more high-volume passing attack this year — or who would stand to benefit if they did. Both questions have been answered affirmatively through the first two games, and besides Jackson, “Hollywood” Brown and Mark Andrews are looking like the clear winners for fantasy purposes. Hollywood saw 13 targets against Arizona, and Andrews had nine, while no other Ravens pass-catcher got more than three.
Antonio Brown (WR – NE) led the Patriots in targets and receiving yards. It’s always hard to know whether to trust pre-game stories about player usage, as we learned just last Thursday when Ian Rapopport reported that the Bucs planned to increase Ronald Jones’ workload. Jones got four carries. But Rapopport’s report that the Patriots planned to “feed” targets to Brown early in the Miami game turned out to be dead on. AB’s legal situation remains totally up in the air, but he displayed instant on-field chemistry with Tom Brady, and we can safely say after this game that he’ll be on the WR1 radar next week if he does suit up.
Aaron Jones (RB – GB) had a career-high 23 carries. Jones is one of the best pure rushers in football, but between injuries and playing time issues, he’s been a frustrating player to own over his first two seasons. Week 2 was an encouraging sign that Jones could finally see the consistent workload he deserves under Green Bay’s new coaching staff. Jamaal Williams isn’t completely going away because he does the “little things” that coaches love. But if this game is any indication, Matt LaFleur recognizes what Mike McCarthy didn’t — that he’ll need to ride Jones to victories.
Andy Dalton (QB – CIN) has averaged 46.5 pass attempts through two games. That is obviously unsustainable, but it’s beginning to look like Dalton is going to be a much more appealing fantasy option under Zac Taylor than he was under Marvin Lewis. He’s an intriguing streamer, especially in plus matchups, and could find himself on the weekly QB1 radar before long. This major volume is also good news for John Ross, who had another big game and stands a good chance of remaining relevant when A.J. Green returns. Taylor is a Sean McVay disciple and could spread targets to Green, Tyler Boyd, and Ross the same way McVay does to Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and Brandin Cooks.
The Brees and Roethlisberger injuries could dramatically alter the fantasy landscape. I covered the superflex value of these QBs themselves up top, but the even bigger issue is what a dropoff in quarterback play would mean for guys like Kamara, Michael Thomas, James Conner (if he’s healthy himself), and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Those four players were all taken in the first two rounds of fantasy drafts. Teddy Bridgewater and Mason Rudolph both have more potential than many other backup QBs, but it is still a worrying development for anyone who is heavily invested in Saints or Steelers.
Lamar Jackson (QB – BAL) is having a Mahomes-like impact. If you drafted Lamar, you’re probably 2-0. It will be interesting to see how he does against better defenses than Miami and Arizona, but his upcoming schedule isn’t too scary, either (@KC, CLE, @PIT, CIN). The odds are against him being on Mahomes’ level all season, but if he runs as he did on Sunday, he is going to have a very high floor. We’ll get to compare him to Mahomes more directly when the Ravens and Chiefs square off next Sunday.
Stream defenses against the Dolphins. The Patriots’ defense impressed against the Steelers in Week 1, but a Week 2 matchup with the Dolphins turned them into a true difference-maker. Miami is a complete mess on both sides of the ball, and with an utter lack of skill position players, their offense will likely remain low-scoring and turnover-prone whether Ryan Fitzpatrick or Josh Rosen is under center. The circus travels to Dallas next, so go get that Cowboys defense.